"Unthinkable" DVD, Blu-ray Review

6/24/2010 Posted by Admin


DVD, Blu-ray Review

Directed by Gregor Jordan, Written by Oren Moverman and Peter Woodward, 97 Minutes, Rated R

By our guest blogger, Rob Stammitti

On a Tuesday morning, an FBI counter-terrorism agent, Helen Brody (Carrie-Anne Moss), is taken to a secret location on the outskirts of New York City where an American Muslim charged with terrorism is being held for interrogation. Brody is opposed to the treatment he's getting, deeming it torture and against the Geneva Convention, but she has no idea that the blindfold and cold water are nothing compared to what's coming. A black-ops agent, going by the simple codename H (Samuel L. Jackson), is taken in along with Brody, and his techniques redefine the word "torture."

So begins "Unthinkable," a film that takes the "Ticking Time Bomb" scenario from its inconsequential paper origins and places it directly into a real situation--the terrorist, Yusef (Michael Sheen), claims to have placed three bombs in three highly populated urban locations and has set them to explode at noon on Friday. H and Brody have just four days to get the truth out of Yusef--so, they have to ask themselves, what are they willing to do to get the truth?

This is a rough film to watch based on its moral implications alone. It's practically impossible to view this situation passively. The urgency aside, the simple question of whether torture is an effective means of interrogation has been one of the most polarizing topics in American politics these past 10 years, and being confronted directly with this kind of situation does make the film somewhat difficult to watch. Every question of right or wrong or what is "too far" asked of one of the characters is equally aimed at the audience.

Still, for a film with this kind of subject matter, it seems rather indecisive on its own quandary. Ultimately, I think the film's lack of a solid decision on torture suggests, quite bluntly, that there isn't one solid answer. The three lead characters pretty clearly convey the three most crucial opinions. Sheen's character voices the opinion that torture is nothing but monstrous. H, an unmoving and cold instrument of the government, believes victory must be achieved by any means necessary. There are no limits. And Brody, who attempts to hold the moral ground between these two men, depicts the virtual impossibility of a real black and white, good vs. evil decisionmaking process. Throughout the film, all three of these characters are depicted in various lights, and in the process we see no one can really be "right" when it comes to something like the torture of another human being.

Outside of the moral implications, the film is generally quite solid as a thriller. Jackson hasn't been this good in years, and Sheen, while kind of descending into useless villainous overacting as the film goes on, does rather well with material so different from what he's usually dealing with.

Director Gregor Jordan, coming back from his critically annihilated "The Informers," builds tension extraordinarily well and actually manages to get some very graceful direction from such a simple setting.

It's not a great film, but there are few films able to cover such a heavy topic while remaining engaging and entertaining.

Grade: B-

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  1. Hrushi said...

    Why watch such a headache when you've got lot of great movies.... The other reviews on this website tell what great movies are!

  2. Tom Graczkowski said...

    Well I haven't seen the film yet but was looking forward to checking it out for some time. As for your final statement wouldn't B- qualify as a great film? It seems like you quite enjoyed it for such a high rating.

    Anyways a good review. ;)

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